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‘Cap on COVID treatment charges impractical, insensitive’

Telangana Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association have urged CM for a more ‘accommodating’ price ceiling

COVID-19 patients who opt for treatment at private hospitals might continue to incur higher charges despite the price ceiling announced as members of Telangana Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (THANA) have termed the recently-issued government order (GO) in this regard as ‘impractical’ and ‘insensitive’.

Association president P. Praveen said their representation on the charges submitted to the Health department was not considered while THANA representatives said it is difficult for them to offer treatment at the recently capped charges.

Sources in the Health department have said that complaints against excess charges were lodged even after issuing the GO.

Two GOs similar

The State government issued two GOs related to capping of the charges for COVID-19 treatment and diagnostic tests at private hospitals and nursing homes. GO no.248 was issued on June 15 while GO no. 401 was issued a week later.

The treatment charges are based on the ward the patient is admitted to. It was divided into three categories in the two GOs — charges for routine ward plus isolation fixed at ₹4,000, ICU without ventilator plus isolation at ₹7,500, ICU with ventilator and isolation at ₹9,000. When the two GOs are considered, there were a few changes in services excluded.

Difference in GOs

In the GO no 401 issued on June 22, it was mentioned that the charges are not applicable to patients subscribing to insurance schemes or those being treated under various MoUs, agreements between hospitals and different sponsored groups or corporate entities.

Besides, charges for COVID-19 investigations such as HRCT, IL-6, and ambulance services too were mentioned in the order.

Consultations

Similar to the first wave, family members of COVID-19 patients decried that the cost of treatment at corporate and private hospitals were astronomical. Some had to take loans or sell their jewellery/ other property. After consulting THANA and Telangana Superspeciality Hospitals Association, the GO 401 was issued a few days ago.

However, THANA members said that the second GO was similar if not worse than the first GO issued on June 15.

They have listed out seven reasons which led to hike charges in the past one year — four-fold hike in salaries of the staff; free COVID care for their family members, lodging and boarding facilities; huge payments to consultants and specialists; cost of investigations; infrastructure development; high electricity and biomedical waste disposable charges; and finally, 10-fold increase in oxygen cylinder cost.

Dr Praveen said that the private hospitals took load of around 70% of COVID-19 patients. Association representatives have also stated that the treatment was provided at huge personal risk to them and their family members. They said that 1,350 doctors and para medical staff lost lives in the first and second wave.

“We reiterate that it’s going to be troublesome and difficult for us to be able to give COVID care at such poor costs as mentioned in the second GO,” THANA representatives said.

They have requested Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao and senior Health officials to show them a way forward and arrive at a more scientific and accommodative pricing that allows them to continue providing COVID care.

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